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Po c learning journeys


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Po c learning journeys

  1. 1. The Pioneers of ChangeLearning Journey Fieldbook 1st edition, March 2007 1
  2. 2. INTRODUCTIONA Pioneers of Change “learning journey” is a physical journey, but is also a journeyof the mind and soul. The idea is to create an immersion experience that enablesparticipants to grow, and to develop and improve their practice as a pioneer.Pioneers of Change (PoC) has been hosting learning journeys for groups of youngpractitioners since 2001, each focused around a different theme. Many lessons havebeen learned, and at the same time, the learning journeys are still very much anexperiment on the edge. This fieldbook was created to share learnings fromprevious journeys so that those planning new ones can draw on some of thesuccesses of the past and avoid repeating some of the mistakes.CHARACTERISTICS OF A POC LEARNING JOURNEYPoC is always a space for new ideas, and there is no static recipe for a learningjourney. However, general defining characteristics of a PoC learning journey include: - Learning through immersion: Each learning journey ventures to a place where there is a rich field of experience with a certain approach or theme related to systemic social change. Participants “dive in”, engaging in face-to- face dialogue with local practitioners and the local reality. They learn from this encounter with difference and possibility. - Open inquiry: Learning journey participants are encouraged to engage with the experience as openly as possible. They usually receive some training in how to suspend one’s assumptions and judgment, how to draw on multiple senses, and how to ask open questions in order to open up to a new experience and deepen one’s perspective. - Multiple learning approaches: The encounters are designed to involve experiential and practical learning, as well as observing, reflecting and talking. Each learning journey needs to be designed so there is time for both quiet personal reflection and group reflection on the experience. - Group learning: While the journeys are designed around site visits, the learning that happens through the group seeing and reflecting together in their diversity is as important as the individual learning from observations and interacting with the people and projects visited. - Co-creation: While much of the journey needs to be planned in advance, the participants of a PoC learning journey also are invited to help shape certain parts of the programme, as well as ways to document the experience. - Being in learning community: Key to the success of the learning journey is how well the group manages to build a sense of community among its members and with the host organizations visited during the journey. The intention is not to be “development tourists”, but to engage in relationship. These learning communities often continue beyond the journeys in the form of distributed Communities of Practice, hosted by Pioneers of Change. 2
  3. 3. HISTORYPioneers of Change started hosting learning journeys in 2001. In February 2001, ourpartner the Common Futures Forum hosted a programme called “Learning forAction” in Bangladesh exploring micro-finance and non-formal education. Thisprogramme, which was managed by the local organization Working for Better Life,had members of Pioneers of Change participating, as well as helping withrecruitment, planning, and facilitation. We were inspired by Learning for Action tostart hosting more learning journeys in different countries, and to take the learningapproach and pedagogy of the learning journeys deeper. Subsequent journeysincluded: - “Critical Education”, 2001: A 9-day journey to Brazil exploring the legacy of liberation educationalist Paulo Freire and a variety of approaches to critical and popular education. - “Peace-building and Post-conflict Reconstruction”, 2002: An 8-day journey to Croatia exploring innovative approaches to peace-building and conflict resolution in the post-war ex-Yugoslavia. - “Swaraj: A journey into self-rule”, 2003: A 10-day journey to India focused on Gandhian concepts of Swaraj (self-rule), Swadesh (local rootedness) and Satyagraha (non-violent resistance) and how these ideas are being applied today in an era of globalization and modern struggles for cultural freedom. - “Arts for Social Change I-III”, 2004-2006: The Arts for Social Change community has so far hosted 3 learning journeys, the first in Brazil and the last two in South Africa, looking at the role of arts in cultural healing and social transformation. - “Between Integration and Isolation”, 2005: A 5-day journey to the Netherlands looking at the current issues in Europe around integration of immigrants, and new cultural issues arising. - “Sustainable development”, 2005: A 10-day journey to Sao Paulo and Curitiba in Brazil focused on sustainable living and models of sustainable communities as well as conversations around sustainability at a global level. - “Social Entrepreneurship”, 2007: As we write, a learning journey exchange is taking place between PoC in South Africa and the Association for International Social Entrepreneurship (AISE) in Sweden, involving two two- week learning journeys, first in South Africa and then in Sweden.At the time of writing this handbook, pioneers in Thailand and Egypt are alsoconsidering hosting new learning journeys. Output documents from previousjourneys are available from the PoC website ( Anyonehosting a future journey should take a look at these documents to be familiar withthe stories and specific lessons of the previous journeys. 3
  4. 4. GETTING STARTEDWhat are some of the steps to take when deciding to go ahead with a learningjourney? The below steps are a checklist to inspire your planning – they do not needto be taken in this order, if something different will work better for you! 1. Deciding the theme: What is the rich field of experience that your country or community has something to teach the world about? What are some of the innovative practices around this theme, or the paradoxes, that you could physically take participants to see? 2. Develop an initial concept paper: Your first concept paper may be brief (2-3 pages) and just sent out to the key collaborators you would like to invite in to help make the journey happen. This concept paper can be used to gauge their interest and can then be adjusted with their input and turned into participant invitations and fundraising proposals. The concept should include why you are hosting the journey, a broad picture of what will happen on the journey, who will participate, and what you intend for the impact to be. 3. Convene your coordinating team: As early as possible, create a team around you, build ownership, and clarify roles, so that the burden of organizing isn’t only on one or two people. It’s a good idea to do some activities with the team that generate excitement about the journey, like doing a mini-learning journey together or hosting some conversations around the theme. It’s also important to be aware of what it is that motivates each team member to want to be involved. 4. Widen the conversation - initiate an online dialogue: PoC has numerous email lists for communities of practice with people interested in different topics. If your topic is related to one of the existing lists, bring the list members in early to help you think about the programme, and generate excitement by sending regular updates on the preparations out to the list. If there isn’t an existing list related to your topic, you can create one. 5. Establish date and location – Where and when will the journey take place? Be realistic, the journeys have often been postponed because it takes longer than you think to organize it on the ground and especially to fundraise and recruit participants. This also involves deciding on the length of the journey, considering how far people are traveling to attend, budget and time considerations, the level of depth of learning and experience you are aiming for, the level of complexity of the theme, how much there is to explore, etc. 6. Communicate with potential partner organizations: Start talking to the potential local partner organizations who can receive the learning journey group. See the below section on communicating with host organizations. 7. Start marketing to participants: Recruitment of participants can be the most time-consuming part of the LJ preparation. Create the application form early and send it out as widely as possible. Stay on people’s “radar screens”. See the below section on recruitment. 8. Develop a draft agenda with the team: See below section on process 4
  5. 5. design. 9. Develop a budget and financing strategy: See the below section on financing. 10. Determine facilitation requirements: You will need to think about whether the local team you have assembled has sufficient experience with facilitation of group processes to be able to hold the group through this experience or whether you should invite some of the international PoC facilitators to join you. 11. Confirm local logistics and field visits: See below section on logistics. 12. Decide what will be produced in terms of outputs and documentation: See below section on knowledge ecology.THE HOSTING TEAMHaving the right composition of people helping you to make the learning journeyhappen is probably the most fundamental pre-condition for success. You needpeople who are passionate about making the learning journey happen, who feel theythemselves will learn something and are excited to meet the participants and buildinternational relationships. They should also be people who have a sense ofresponsibility and ownership. You will need at least 3 people in total workingtogether, including at least one who is experienced with the learning journey theme,and one who is familiar with the PoC network, principles, and past learning journeys.The main roles in this team are described here. Note that these roles may overlap orbe taken up by more than one person.Coordinator: Some learning journeys have one overall coordinator making sureeverything is on track. Others manage to have more shared leadership in the team.If you do go for distributing the coordination role over multiple people, it is importantto establish role clarity and a strong sense of accountability across everyoneinvolved.Facilitator/s: The facilitator or facilitators will be the main responsibles fordesigning and hosting the learning process and pedagogical approach of the journey.They are responsible for creating a ‘container’, enabling the group to come up withit’s agreements (or ‘ground rules’), clarifying roles and boundaries with the group,making sure there is alignment between group intentions and personal intentions,and facilitating group learning activities that make sense in terms of the unfoldingneeds of the group during the journey. The facilitators often needs to find a finebalance between being assertive, fx. insisting that reflection time is honored, withoutbecoming controlling so participants feel their freedom is restricted. They need to beable to remain calm and centred during the journey and are essentially holding theoverall learning experience.Ideally, each journey should have at least one facilitator on the team who has donelearning journeys before. This person can then work together with another who canbe more new to it, so learning gets passed on and new ideas can come in. Even 5
  6. 6. someone with a strong background in facilitating other kinds of learning processes,workshops and conferences needs to be aware that the experience of facilitating alearning journey can be quite different: Creating a ‘container’ is more challengingbecause people are spreading out on visits and having different experiences.Experiences on the journey can trigger different and unpredictable reactions inpeople. Participants can get physically tired, emotional, confused or disoriented.People are experiencing a new culture as well as a new topic and a new group.If you are not sure you have sufficient facilitation capacity for your learning journey,you can contact the Pioneers of Change associates network, which includes anumber of people who have facilitated previous journeys.Logistical support: The people responsible for logistics need to take care of all thepractical details like accommodation, food, transport, materials, meeting venues, visaletters, etc. They may also together with the facilitators be responsible fororganizing the visits with host organizations and communities. In addition to a mainlogistics coordinator, it’s very helpful to have a couple of volunteers who can be“runners” during the programme, when special needs come up. The logistics teamshould try to be aware up front of whatever special requirements participants mayhave. The personalities working on logistics should be flexible, but also able to sayno when boundaries are being stretched.Documentation: It’s helpful to have someone from the core team, who will ensurethat the documentation of the journey happens as the group is on the move. Theparticipants can get actively involved in documentation, taking photos, writingjournals, passing video cameras around, drawing, uploading material to their blogs,etc. So the main documentation person doesn’t have to do all the work, but it’sgood for this one person to be keeping an eye on whether it’s happening andencouraging participants to do it along the way, as it’s easily lost in the activities ofthe journey.Translators: On some journeys you may need people who are willing to betranslators if the local tongue is different from the languages participants speak. Ifyou are relying on participants to do this translation, you should ask them inadvance, as it can detract from the overall experience. Make sure not to just takefor granted that someone who has the ability to translate is also willing and has theenergy to do it.Special events: Some learning journeys include special external events like dinnersor one-day workshops for a wider group of local participants to come together. It’s agood idea to have separate people responsible for these events, who feel a part ofthe overall team, but are not participating in the whole journey. These people willthen have the time and space to do the last-minute preparations, even though themain journey is already underway.TEAM PROCESSThe spirit of the planning team will spill over and can have an infectious impact onthe overall learning journey group when they arrive. It’s a good idea to take timewith the team not just to go over practicalities, but also to talk about hopes andfears for the journey, align expectations, and explore the theme together. You could 6
  7. 7. take turns hosting the meetings, and spend some time at the beginning of eachmeeting doing something that is interesting and enjoyable for the group. 7
  8. 8. PARTICIPANT RECRUITMENT AND COMMUNICATIONThe InvitationHosting a Learning Journey in many ways starts with the invitation. The invitationwill often be the first contact you have with the participants. It will early on begin toshape their experience of the learning journey. Because Pioneers of Change is avirtual community, what you communicate with pictures and words will be crucial inattracting people to join the Learning Journey, creating the learning field andshaping people’s expectations.Creating the invitation is a creative opportunity to gather as a hosting team andclarify the shared vision of what the learning journey will be. You will begin todesign the actual event at this point. In the invitation you need to include an initialsketch of the event. This should include the purpose, the kind of people that thelearning journey is hoping to serve, the preliminary agenda or flow of the days andall the details they will need to sign up.Purpose: A great starting point when you decide to host a learning journey is toclarify the purpose or intention of the event. What is it that you hope that thelearning journey will become? It is helpful to be very clear and robust in articulatingwhy the learning journey is happening. In the chaordic organizing theory thepurpose is what holds the integrity of an open learning process. It helps you makedecisions about design, it allows people to self-select for the right reasons and itgives hosts and participants a shared vision of what they are going to createtogether. The intention of the recent Learning Journey on Arts for Social Change inSouth Africa was : • To highlight, and generate commitment to, the power of working with the arts across the social change sector • To understand the background, the story, the values, and the social change theory that move the most experienced and successful people using artistic techniques in social change, as well as their methodology • To build motivation as well as practical capacity of participants (young artists and people working on community-building and social change in a variety of fields) to apply creative processes for social change • To build relationships and creative partnerships among participants, as part of an ongoing global “Community of Practice” around arts for social change, facilitated by Pioneers of Change • To create a learning tool/ resource package to be used widely among the Pioneers of Change community, facilitators network, and social entrepreneurs beyond the immediate programme participantsPeople: As you look at your design it is good to clarify who the Learning Journey isfor. In Pioneers of Change we generally focus on people in the early phases of workand talk about focusing on people in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. We alsoemphasize working with people who are practitioners in a field and thus facing thereal challenges of that work and with experience and knowledge to share. Wealways aspire to wide national diversity as well as sectoral. The area that yourlearning journey focuses on will help determine who you think would benefit mostfrom the experience. 8
  9. 9. Agenda: In order to draft the invitation you will also want to have the initialprgoramme of the learning journey and a good idea of the organizations that youwant to engage and learn from. In the past we have often used the following as atemplate for our learning journeys: • 2-3 days of getting to know each other, setting intention, and community- building • 3-5 days of journeying to different communities and projects learning from the real challenges and innovations in the field; • 1 day (optional) Workshop to share the insights of the journey as well as the skills and knowledge of the group with the greater community. • 1-2 days of closing, launching collaborations, evaluating the programme and celebrating.It will also be good to share some (or all) of the projects, organizations andcommunities that you will be visiting. If you can create the atmosphere of the eventwith the discriptions of the projects, overall language, graphics and photographs,you will already begin to set the tone of the event and it will be easier to movequickly into learning community when people arrive.Details: To help people make the decision to come it is important to have dates (withsuggested arrival times), costs, venues, instructions for how to apply, and someinitial information about the place where you are hosting the journey.You can find many examples of invitations on the Pioneers of Change website – hereis one example from a Sustainable Development LJ in Brazil, 2005: of Change is a loose network in many ways and just announcing thejourney on the website and newsletter will likely not be enough to attract sufficientparticipants. It is great to get an “in-focus” piece in the PoC global newsletterseveral months before the journey. We usually send the invite to all the active PoClists and especially to the CoP related to the Journey and the Chaord Group andStewards list.In addition the following websites / newsletters have attracted people in the past: - Taking IT Global - - Pioneers of Change is registered on their website, and we can advertise our events there. - CIVICUS - has a global Newsletter and they take submissions – email the invite to editor@civicus.orgSeek out listserves and websites in the field of practice of the learning journey.The best way to market a PoC Learning Journey is through networks of trust,personal invitations and personal requests to pass the invite on are extremelyhelpful. In general, people need personal encouragement, as they are ofteninvesting significant time and money to come. A nudge and a conversation aboutwhy it will be valuable for their learning as well as how much they can contribute to 9
  10. 10. the overall value of the journey, can often make the difference. In addition,frequent updates to the relevant Commuity of Pracitice list and interestedparticipants can help build the excitement so people in the end feel they cant notcome.Application formThe application or registration form will give you all the practical information you’llneed to have for the participants (contact info, passport #, dietary requirements) aswell as information about who they are that will help in designing the meeting tomeet their needs. A SAMPLE APPLICATION FORM The application for the Sustainable Development learning journey included the following questions and information: PERSONAL DETAILS Name, National/cultural background, Birthdate, Gender, Passport number Email address, Phone number (with international dialing code), Postal address, Fax number Do you need a visa for Brazil? Do you have any medicaL or dietary requirements? When will you be arriving and departing, considering the programme runs from 2 to 12 October? REFLECTION QUESTIONS Who are you and what is your work? Explain why you think you should be selected to participate in this Learning Journey. What do you feel you can bring to the programme as a participant? What are your expectations for the programme? What would you like to take back with you? What worries you about the state of the world? What gives you hope? What does sustainable development mean for you? How do you feel you are currently contributing to sustainable development/creating a better world – at a personal level, in your work and/or in your community? What more would you like to do? What is your experience as someone committed to sustainable development/creating a better world? What challenges or dilemmas have you faced or are you currently facing? What support do you need? Is there a specific project, practice or process you would like to share with other participants in a session? Do you have any ideas/input for the design or content of the programme? Is there anything specific you would like to see? Do you have any objections to our making your application form available for other participants to view? 10
  11. 11. As important as the process of informing you of who they are, is the self-reflectionand intention setting process that the participants will go through in answering thequestions you ask. When a participant takes the time to write about themselves andtheir work and their aspirations for the LJ, they are making an investment in thejourney and their process of engagement and investment in the learning processbegins. There are numerous examples of questions used in past LJs – their may beother specific questions that you want to ask – specific to the focus of the learningjourney.Logistically you can have a person on the team accepting applications, or you canuse a free on-line tool such as Survey Monkey www.SurveyMonkey.comCultivated Self-selectionPioneers of Change is a self-selecting network, meaning that people choose to beinvolved and it is open to whoever is drawn to be there. As an organizer of aPioneers of Change activity, you can cultivate the self-selection process and make itmore potent by being very clear and explicit about the purpose of what you arecreating and who you are hoping to serve.In this way you can pay attention to who is applying for a learning journey and actwhen you perceive a lack of fit. If a participant’s background, approach orexpectations seem incongruous with the purpose of LJ, you can engage theparticipant in a conversation. In past experience, most often when you clarify thepurpose of the journey and the intended participants as well as your question aboutwhether it is really a good fit for the person - the applicant will either respond bydeclining to join or advocate for themselves in a way that clarifies why they shouldbe there and dispels any misconceptions that were present on both sides. In generalit is important to have clear and transparent expectations on both sides, so thatparticipants know what they are joining and why, and you as a hosting team knowwhat they want to get out of the experience.Welcome packDepending on how much people have traveled before, coming on a learning journeycan be a bit anxious for people and we have found that giving them goodinformation on the county that they are coming to and the LJ can help allevietefears.A typical welcome pack includes: • Logistical information: arrivals, visas, phone numbers, accomodations etc. • Programme Information: shcedule, projects profiles, thought provoking questions to prepare participants. • Local context: the weather, culture, safety, dress, historical context, story of the field of inquiry that the Learning Journey is exploring etc. • What to Bring • Participant BiosIt is important to get the Welcome pack out to potential participants at least a monthbefore the journey. 11
  12. 12. VisasBe mindful of participants needing Visas to enter the country where the journey istaking place and get them the necessary letters early and encourage them to applyas soon as possible. The visa process can be lenghty and we have had severalLearning Journey participants cancel at the eleventh hour because their Visa did notcome through in time.Enrollment interviewsDoing enrollment interviews can make a big difference in terms of the participants’preparation for the journey, as well as feeding into your preparations to make sureyou are designing the journey right for the people who are attending. Sometimeshearing your friendly voice on the other end of the line can also be the final thingthat makes the difference between someone deciding to come on the journey or not.For this reason and to give you time to incorporate any changes to the agenda, thecalls should be made at least 6 weeks before the beginning of the journey.The main purpose of the call is to align expectations and to get to know theparticipants. Topics you could cover in these calls include: - What is the participant’s background? Where are they from, what activities/work have they been involved in? What are they interested in? - Why are they coming on the journey? (This question will have been asked in the applications, but can be elaborated on.) - Are there specific things they’d like to see happen on the journey? (You may want to talk to them about whether these expectations are realistic.) - Are there specific skills or talents they’d like to offer on the journey, such as video-taping, photography, writing, teambuilding exercises…? - What questions do they have for you and the organizing team? Any concerns as they prepare for the journey? - Have they got their ticket and visa in order? 12
  13. 13. PROCESS DESIGN AND FACILITATIONDesigning the AgendaCreating the agenda for a learning journey can be a bit of a puzzle, as you may betrying to fit many different schedules together. It’s good to start with an overallstructure of the process. At its most simple, you can think of the journey as a storywith a beginning, a middle, and an end/closure:Beginning: Closure: time forcommunity- overall reflection,building, Middle: launchingintention-setting, journeys to collaborations,and preparation evaluation and closing different communities and projectsBeginning:The process of beginning, embarking on the journey, lays the foundation for theentire experience. The first learning journeys we hosted in PoC had only half a dayof orientation before embarking on visits, whereas the later ones have included up totwo days in a peaceful retreat center to get the journey started on a solid footing.This phase of the journey covers: - Community-building: participants getting to know each others stories, work, and reasons for joining - Overall orientation to the general idea of a learning journey, as well as to this specific journey and to the local culture, - ‘Contracting’, i.e. creating agreements around what the participants need from each other for them to have a successful journey, - Planning for any elements of the journey that are co-created, like documentation, sharing sessions, or special events, - Some introduction to open inquiry, and training in capacities of listening, sensing, and suspending judgment. An example of a useful tool for this training is to introduce the ‘ladder of inference’: 13
  14. 14. Middle:The heart of the learning journey is the series of visits to striking organizations,projects, and communities. It’s very important that these visits are experiential, sothat the group has a chance to really feel what is going on, and not just be toldabout it by a few individuals. The visits should balance information with experienceand with one-on-one or small group conversations with people involved. The groupmay want to appoint a participant to introduce them and explain where they are ontheir journey at the beginning of each visit.The series of visits needs to be balanced with time for reflection and processing whathas been experienced. This reflection time is where a lot of the learning reallyhappens as people become aware of the difference between what they noticed andwhat others noticed, and learn to see through the group’s eyes and not just theirown.Some things to consider in designing the middle of the journey include: Time for daily check-ins and briefings: Each morning should have time set aside before venturing out for a check-in and briefing for the day. The check-in gives a chance for each participant to briefly express anything they need to air, and the briefing ensures that everyone is on the same page about what will happen that day. Balancing experiential immersion and reflection: Sometimes in the rush to fit all the amazing things there are to see into an agenda, the reflection time can get cut out, leading to a sensory overload without time for processing. This is probably the most important balance to strike in a learning journey. Participants need time for both individual and group reflection in order to have a quality learning experience. It’s good to use different kinds of tools for reflection, balancing large circle dialogue that gives a sense of where the overall group is at, with small group conversations that can go more in depth and feel more free. It’s also important to have enough space in the agenda that the group can spontaneously convene a conversation if an issue arises that needs to be processed. Consider putting a longer session of reflection time in a morning in the middle of the journey as participants are often very tired at evening reflections. Re-visiting group norms/ agreements: Often a group creates a set of agreements in the beginning of a process, and then forgets all about them until they get to the point of evaluation and realize they didn’t live up to their agreements so well. It’s a good idea to take time around the middle of the process for revisiting these agreements and having a frank and open conversation around how well the group is living up to them, and how they can improve. Travel: A number of the previous PoC learning journeys have included travel between multiple cities and communities. This is beneficial because it gives participants a picture of multiple contexts, and people are often keen to visit more than one place if they’ve traveled to a new country for the journey. However, long bus trips can be quite exhausting for participants and require some free time placed in the agenda upon arrival. Learning journeys can be 14
  15. 15. psychologically challenging, and physical tiredness can add too much to the stress. Don’t push people too hard. Including an external day/event: Several learning journeys have included an event that allowed for sharing with a wider group of local practitioners. This event can also be an opportunity to bring the people from the different host organizations together in one room, so they experience the local network emerging around the learning journey and not just the learning journey group itself. These events have taken different forms: - An evening with project exhibits and a dinner party (Brazil 2001) - A day seminar around the theme (Brazil 2005) - A workshop day with many parallel workshops on the theme, culminating in an evening celebration (South Africa 2005-2006) There is a great benefit to doing these external events, bringing a larger community into the room. The difficulty is that it requires almost a separate organizing team, as it is often difficult for the core LJ team to be planning last minute details for these events during the journeys.Closure:The learning journey is a very eye- and heart-opening experience. A proper senseof closure will allow participants to feel ready and prepared to go back home andapply their learnings, and to stay in relationship with each other.It’s a good idea to use some artistic techniques at this stage. In several of thelearning journeys, we have for example put up a big piece of cloth or paper on thewall and had people paint images and words on it reflecting their journey. This givesa sense that they are jointly piecing together the ‘bigger picture’ of the journey. Wehave also previously asked each person in silence to draw their journey and the upsand downs they experienced along the way. The closure phase should include timefor: - making sense of, and synthesising, what has been learned, - discussing any activities, project ideas, or other next steps, - clarifying how to stay in relationship, - reflecting on how it will be to return home from a life-changing experience when the world back home hasn’t changed as much as you have, - evaluation (see separate section on evaluation), - check-out, going around the circle, hearing each person’s reflections on the journey or parting thoughts.Sometimes the check-out may include a “love-back” session, where after eachperson checks out, two other participants speak back what they appreciate about theperson who has just spoken.Dealing with conflict and the unexpectedYou may have planned the perfect agenda, and yet the reality is that the story ofhow the learning journey will unfold is an unpredictable adventure. It is perfectlyhealthy for the group to go through some “storming” somewhere in the middle ofthe programme, and if this is handled well, it can actually deepen the learningexperience dramatically. There are a variety of tools for handling these situationswhich you should make sure your facilitators are aware of. One resource is the“Mapping Dialogue” report available from the PoC website. The most important 15
  16. 16. thing is for the facilitators and hosting team to stay calm and to recognize that this isan integral and useful part of the group’s process.Another aspect of this informal group process to be aware of is that often thedynamics of the issue or system that is being observed and talked about and focusedon can show up inside the group itself in terms of its own dynamics. This can bedifficult but can also, again, be a rich source of learning if the faciitator can point itout. Bringing the conversation home to the here and now, and our own roles in it,rather than staying in the “us and them” mindset, can lead to the deepest shifts inparticipants awareness.Sample agenda Fri 22 Sept Sat 23 Sept Sun 24 Sept Mon 25 Sept Tues 26 Sept 8:00 8:30 Check in 9:00 Check in Check in Transport to Joubert Park 9:30 Check in Transport Sharing personal Joubert Park: Tour10:00 Opening, welcome & Inter-cultural and Zanendaba stories, work and including Lapeng10:30 introduction to the inter-personal Storytellers talents and Johannesburg11:00 programme preparation and Arts Gallery11:30 group dynamics12:00 Creative Inner City12:30 Transport Initiative13:00 Lunch Lunch at Moyo Zoo Lunch Lunch Lunch13:30 Lake14:00 Intention-setting & Zanendaba Creative Inner City14:30 agreements – Vision Drumming circle with Storytellers Free time Initiative15:00 for Arts for Social 20 000 Drums15:30 Change16:00 Screening of16:30 Amandla &17:00 Transport Transport discussion17:30 Evening out in Free time Transport18:00 Newtown to Free Time18:30 Dinner in Melville celebrate Heritage Dinner19:00 Day Dinner in Melville Dinner19:30 Wed 27 Sept Thurs 28 Sept Fri 29 Sept Sat 30 Sept Sun 1 Oct 8:00 8:30 Transport to Soweto 9:00 Check in Full day Arts Event 9:30 Soweto Mountain of Transport 10:00 Hope (SOMOHO) Option 1: AREPP Reflection on the Next steps 10:30 Theatre for Life journey & lessons 11:00 learnt 11:30 Option 2: Sibikwa 12:00 Yana 12:30 Lunch at Soweto Lunch Lunch Lunch 13:00 Kliptown Youth 13:30 Continue at host Workshop Closure, 14:00 Soweto Kliptown organization preparation commitments & 14:30 Youth evaluation 15:00 Transport 15:30 16:00 Constitution Hill 16:30 17:00 17:30 Transport to Tour with Albie Break Break 18:00 Johannesburg Sachs 18:30 Dinner & reflection Celebration 19:00 Dinner at Dinner Closing Dinner 19:30 Constitution Hill 16
  17. 17. Learning Journeys in Developing Countries(Excerpt from Generon Consulting’s Change Lab Fieldbook,“Executing learning journeys in developing countries presents a special challenge anda higher level of complexity. Here the possibility of an “honest conversation” becomeseven more remote due to vast cultural and social boundaries and power differentials.All complexities, be they with host organizations or the participants themselves, canbe handled through remaining clear on the purpose of the learning journey and theintentions of the participants to learn and engage as honestly and as openly aspossible. Often the greatest barriers to conversation are the assumptions,judgments, and barriers of the participants themselves.Western participants often arrive at “Third World” sites (especially rural sites) with theassumption in their mind that people who have less material wealth than them are“poor.” Individuals on site can often also reinforce this label through their ownactions-partially because this is the only relationship they have known withWesterners. This leads to a reinforcing of power structures which only entrench thebarriers to honest conversation.The alternative is to arrive differently. Rather than assume that people with lessmaterial wealth are“poor” it makes much more sense to arrive with at least thepossibility in mind that they are equally, or more wealthy in other domains, and thatthey have something to teach us. This creates the space for a conversationbetween equals.A number of times we’ve had participants ask what we’re giving back to a site, itbeing clear that we have somehow “taken something away.” Such an attitude, againtells us more about the mindsets of participants than it does about the real needs ofpeople at a site. It assumes that people “need” something that we have and theydon’t. While this may be true at some level, it’s an assumption and a judgementwhich should be questioned. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give to a communityis to enable them to be teachers to us for once, and to not see them as needy.” 17
  18. 18. PROJECT PLANNING AND LOGISTICSThere are quite a lot of details to be covered when organizing a learning journey. If thelogistics are not in place, this can cause unnecessary strain on participants and detract fromthe learning experience. It’s important to do whatever you can to prepare well, and to beable to think on your feet and improvise when things sometimes slip during the journey.The coordinator should work with the team to create a project plan that includes a timelineof: - Each action item (eg. Book hotel/ send visa letters/ organize theatre tickets…) - Timeline (by when each action item needs to be done) - Person responsible - Status/ commentsA basic check-list for the action items that would go into the project plan could include: 1. Participant logistics and communication - Applications and invitations out - Receive applications - Acceptance of participants - Confirmation of participants - Participant information in spreadsheet - Flight arrival and departure times/ pick-up schedule - Orientation pack out - Enrollment calls - Visa letters - Compile bios and send to email list - Welcome packs, disclaimer forms, and nametags 2. Finances - Funding proposals out - Confirmation of budget - Invoices out - Deposits paid 3. General logistics - Accommodation booked - Rooms allocated (if necessary) - Transportation booked - Meals - Venue hire - Entertainment bookings - Collect materials from host organizations for welcome packs - Workshop materials 4. Special events - List of invitees - Invites out - Venue booking - Food confirmed 5. Process design - Confirm host organizations and visits - Host organizations briefings out - Invite guest speakers (if relevant) - Final agenda design 18
  19. 19. Additional considerations and tipsSpecial requirements: Make sure to collect information from participants about any specialrequirements related to their dietary or health needs and incorporate these into the projectplan.Venues: The physical environment is very important in creating a container. This goes bothfor the accommodation space and meeting spaces being used. It’s advisable to use a ruralretreat for the orientation day/s and the closing day. Try not to put too many people to aroom as they need space to think and privacy. It’s also a good idea for the hosts to havetheir own rooms.First aid kit: Try to buy the basics like painkillers, bandaids, sanitary pads, and coldmedicine up front, and have one person carrying these who is known as the first aid personby participants. You may still need to run and buy medication if participants get sick, but it’sgood to have the basics on hand.Disclaimer forms: Participants need to know that PoC is not liable if anything happens tothem during the journey. A simple disclaimer form will do, you may want to check onregulations in your country for the appopriate format.Visa letters: You may need to push participants to let you know early if they need a visaletter. This should really be done in good time, otherwise participants get caught off guardwith the time it takes to process them, and at times they have arrived late. Visa lettersgenerally need to be faxed to the participant as well as to your country’s embassy in theircountry. 19
  20. 20. WORKING WITH HOST ORGANISATIONSThe host organizations or communities are the people who the group will be visiting alongthe journey. They are partners in the journey, and the closer you manage to build arelationship with them, the better the visits will be.What to look for in selecting the visits: - People who are using innovative approaches - Visits that can be visual and experiential – there needs to be something that can be seen, sensed, and felt, not just talked about - Places that can be a rich source of information about the topic. Depending on the topic, you may also be looking for ambiguity or paradox that can challenge people’s learning.The best way to prepare the host organizations and communities is to visit them in personand follow-up with a written briefing. This briefing should include who the participants are,what PoC is, what we are expecting from the visit, and our logistical needs. It’s oftenpossible for the hosts to organize meals and snacks as well if you ask them well in advance.You also need to make phone calls to them the day before the visit to make sure they areready and whether they have any last minute needs or advice for you.Possible elements of a good visit include: - Introductions to the people in both groups (the LJ participants and the hosts) - Some brief introductory background to the organization or place - A visual experience, such as a tour or somehow observing/experiencing what happens in the organization/place on a daily basis - Small group or one-on-one conversations with participantsWhat to avoid - Sitting in theatre-style listening to a long powerpoint presentation of information on the project - Being allowed to only hear from the leader or the founder of a project, or some person of statusWhile we need to be clear that we don’t want the visit to be a monologue, it’s important tobe aware if the hosts have culturally-derived expectations and we need to follow protocol.Sometimes you do need to offer respect to certain people, or follow certain rituals – take it aspart of the learning experience in that case.Sample host organization briefingArts for Social ChangeBriefing for Host OrganisationsThank you for joining the Arts for Social Change learning journey as a host organisation. Weare looking forward to learning from your stories and your practices. This briefing includessome basic information about the journey and our hopes and expectations for the day.What is Arts for Social Change?Arts for Social Change is an international learning programme facilitated by Pioneers ofChange. The programme engages young people, generally in their mid-20’s to mid-30’s, whoare either artists interested in channeling their talent towards more meaningful social changepurposes, or activists, professionals, and community-builders wanting to learn how to applymore artistic processes in their work. The programme was started in late 2003. It involves 20
  21. 21. an email list for sharing ideas and resources, production of a CD-rom learning tool, and aseries of international learning journeys, the first of which took place in Brazil in May 2004.Your involvement is in the second learning journey which takes place in Johannesburg, SouthAfrica, from February 24-March 6, 2005.The Learning Jouneys create a powerful experience through a physical journey of a place andcontext that is also a journey into another mindset. They enable participants to develop andimprove their work as change agents, through immersion in different practices,methodologies and perspectives, followed by critical evaluation of what has been observedand workshops on how the learning will translate into practice in their home context.In summary, the South Africa programme will include: - A 2 day workshop covering introductions, setting intention, cultural awareness, and community-building using artistic processes - 5 days of journeying to different communities and projects, getting to know numerous artistic approaches in practice and in context - Ample time for reflection, processing, interpretation, and learning from the other participants - A day of opportunities to offer training sessions and workshops to a wider group of South African participants - Participant involvement in filming and documenting creative processes - Cultural evenings and activities - Collaborative development of new tools and processesWhat is Pioneers of Change?Pioneers of Change ( is the main organiser of this learningjourney. Pioneers of Change is a global learning community of young people, aged 25-35,from diverse cultural, social and professional backgrounds, who are committed to continuouslearning and to working for positive systemic change. We organise in local learningnetworks, learning teams, project groups, and thematic discussions as part of the flexiblestructure of the organisation. Previous learning programme topics have included criticaleducation, water, sustainable development, corporate citizenship, self-governance, micro-finance, peace-building, immigration, and more.Who are the learning journey participants?As stated earlier, the participants will be young (25-35) practitioners, who will range on thespectrum from artists who have yet to get involved in social change, to social change agentswho have yet to get involved in art. About half of the participants will be people who arealready working directly with arts and social change.The participants will have invested significant sums to attend the journey and will be wantingto gain practical knowledge which they can apply in their own communities across the world.They are not tourists who are just brushing the surface, and they are also not journalistslooking for a simple story to either praise or critique. They are curious active learners,critical thinkers, and professionals. As an organisation working with the arts for socialchange, you might consider them your peers from different countries. They will be happy tobe addressed as such.At least a week before the journey, we will be sending you a document with the shortbiographies of all the participants.What are we interested in?We are interested in observing your work in action in the communities, as well as in receivingsome practical training from you in terms of how you do your work. We are interested inhearing your stories. As peer learners, we are just as interested in your failures as your 21
  22. 22. successes - we’re not looking for a glossy image. We are also interested in what is yourlearning edge – the areas that are at the frontier of what you are trying to do, the challengesyou have not yet managed to surmount. We would like to have opportunities to speak one-on-one or in small groups with you and with some of the people you work with, more so thanlistening to extended presentations.Intended structure for the visitWe would like each visit to follow this simple structure: - Check-in: A recap of where we are on our journey. Participants will not all introduce themselves and their work, as this will already be in the bios, and will be repetitive for them, but they will each share a quick question or idea they are carrying with them, and one person will brief you on what they have experienced so far. - Observation/ Demostration: We would like to first observe you in action working with your beneficiaries/ participants, and if possible, being treated as you would treat your beneficiaries/ participants, having a chance to experience and engage in your activity as they would. - Training/ Learning: After the observation, we would like you to offer us a small training perhaps in one or two of the techniques or exercises you use in your work, and to share with us what knowledge and what principles are important to remember when doing this work. - Throughout the visit we would like to ask curious questions and to engage with you in dialogue about your work and ours. - Finally we would like to have some time on our own for a reflection exercise and to share with you what we have learned during the visit, and what we have appreciated about your work.Logistical needs - If it is possible for you to organise lunch for us, we are happy to reimburse any costs incurred. If it is not possible, we ask that you let us know, so that we can organise lunchboxes for the participants. - We will need a room or outdoor space where our group of approximately 30 people can sit in a circle or in small groups for the reflection exercise.We look forward to working with you and to visiting your project. Please contact NicoleAntonie on 082 858 8095 or if you have any questions. 22
  23. 23. KNOWLEDGE ECOLOGYWithin the context of Pioneers of Change Learning programmes, knowledge ecology simplyrefers to how we, reflect on the learning we are having, capture and creatively express theknowledge being generated for our own and others benefit. The term “knowledge ecology”recognizes that knowledge is a living thing and not static: learning journey participants arenot on the journey to have fixed knowledge imparted to them. They will create theknowledge inside their minds and souls, based on their previous experience, and creategroup knowledge that none of them could have as individuals.A significant aspect of hosting the knowledge ecology is to create ample time and space forboth the individuals and the group to reflect on what they are seeing, experiencing andlearning throughout the journey. There is so much input and insight in a learning journeyand so much to see and do, that we can squeeze out time for journaling, debriefing,checking-in and checking-out, but if we hold the spaces for these activities, we allow thegroup to integrate and find the value and meaning in what they are experiencing.Output: HarvestingWe often refer to the process of recording and expressing the knowledge that is beingdiscovered and generated in a learning programme as “harvesting”. The hosting team shouldput thought into the harvesting from the first stages of design and put some thinking intowhat kind of output is possible and desirable from the LJ, and create the opportunity for thatto happen.It is a general practice to produce an output learning document, video or other media forevery Learning Journey. The best way to do this is to involve everyone on the journey fromthe beginning. Providing space for the group as a whole, or a self-selected team to thinkabout and design the output at the beginning engages everyone in the process and creates arich, diverse telling of the story and sharing of the knowledge.Giving people time each day to capture the journey through writing, art, video, photo can bea very effective way to gather the voices and impressions of the journey as you go along. Ata recent Art for Social change learning journey in South Africa their were some very talentedand motivated documenters in the group and they made a schedule that each day oneperson was responsible to capture their impressions and essences of the day in one medium(video, drawing, and writing), so that each day was covered in several ways.If you are taking video of the journey, try to have a plan for editing in advance, as manyvideo tapes lie idle after a journey because no one had the capacity to edit them into a film!The main thing to be aware of is that there is no objective story of the LJ, by capturing manyimpressions and voices there is the opportunity to express the subjective, multi-facetedreality of learning that is happening. 23
  24. 24. EvaluationInteractive EvaluationOver the course of previous learning journeys we have developed an interactive process ofevaluation, which helps participants to become collectively aware of how the journey hasbeen for them as a group and of how they have created the experience together. We findthat it is important to give 2-3 hours to this while participants are still together. If you simplysend people a written evaluation form and write up a report, there is no collectiveassessment, and group context for the individual assessments. The interactive process isparticularly important if the journey has been conflictual in any way or if participants havehad very different experiences of it.The interactive process generally includes: 1. Visual picture of the ups and downs: We take either a long roll of paper or a series of flipcharts with one chart per day and hang these on the wall. On these we draw the journey overall and all the activities and events that have taken place. We then give people post-it notes in three colors – fx. red for the “downs”, green for the “ups”, and yellow for general comments. We play some music while participants in silence move around sticking post-it notes on the mural of the journey according to whether specific events to them was an “up”, i.e. a high point of the journey, or a “down”, i.e. a low point. They write on the post-it notes to explain their comment. The result of this process is a very transparent picture of the ups and downs of the journey. It will be strikingly clear visually if certain activities were high or low points for the group overall, and also what activities got mixed reactions. Participants are encouraged to read what each other has written, which often gives a more nuanced picture of an event – one person’s low may be another’s high and it’s interesting for participants to learn why. Having this visual picture of the journey up on the wall also reminds participants of everything they have done during the process, and how rich and varied it has been. This ‘bigger picture’ view prepares them well for creating closure on the experience. 2. Line-up: Again, this exercise enables the group together to evaluate the journey holistically and visually and to compare experiences. This time, however, the evaluation is around specific shared goals that the group had. The space is set up with one end of the venue marked as a “one” and the other end as a “ten”. Participants are then asked to assess different aspects of the journey on a scale of 1-10, and to physically stand at the point in the ‘line-up’ that relates to that place on the scale. The specific questions will vary according to what the objectives of the specific journey were, and how it unfolded, but examples might include: - On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the field visits? - On a scale of 1-10, how well did we balance reflection time with experiential time? - On a scale of 1-10, how well did this journey empower you in your practice as a pioneer? - On a scale of 1-10, how well did we live up to our agreements/ learning contract? - On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the journey overall? When participants have lined up, the facilitator will generally invite people standing on the extreme low or high end to comment on why they are standing where they are, and then allow anyone else to comment, taking 3-4 people’s reflections for each question. 24
  25. 25. These two exercises are illustrative. There are of course plenty of other ways to do it.Another tool we used in the India learning journey was to have each participant drawtheir journey individually and the ups and downs of it and to share those with others, andhang them on the wall.Other sources of evaluation informationThe knowledge ecology process will hopefully have generated useful material that canalso help to feed into your evaluation, including quotes from participants, journals theyhave written during the process, and pictures they have taken. In addition, you maywant to include a written evaluation form, depending on your needs.Post-evaluationIt is a very good idea to call participants 3-4 months after the journey by phone and tosee how they at that stage feel the journey has affected them. Have they started anynew activities because of the journey? Has it strengthened them in their work in anyway? Have they maintained the relationships built, and potentially evolved any of theminto working partnerships? What insights have sunk in now that the journey is at a bit ofa distance?Writing up evaluation reportsYour reporting needs will differ depending on whether you have external funders or not.Even if you don’t have people you need to account to directly for what you did, theevaluation report is a very significant source of learning for Pioneers of Change in termsof improving our programmes, and so we encourage all learning journeys to write anevaluation report. The style may of course be more free and flexible if it’s primarily forinternal use.Considerations for the evaluation report:- Come back to your orginal intentions and goals for the journey and assess it based on those.- Make sure to include assessments of any unplanned outcomes – these are sometimes the most important.- Give as much attention as possible to lessons learned and how these can inform future programmes – make the evaluation future- and learning-oriented.- Include multiple voices in the evaluation report, and draw on participant quotes as much as possible to back up your statements.- Test the evaluation report with participants, and make sure they think it is fair, before distributing it more widely. 25
  26. 26. FINANCESFinances are often a challenge with the learning journeys because it is expensive forparticipants to travel and cover the fee and costs on the ground. We often get manyapplications from people who would be wonderful to have join the journey, but who can’tafford to be there.BudgetingThe budget needs to be started as early as possible at the beginning of the planning processso that you can set the journey fee at a reasonable rate both for participants and for you tocover your costs. Obviously the budget also needs to be incorporated in any fundraisingproposals you are sending out.You must make sure that the journey at least breaks even, or ideally makes a profit.Considerations: - Shop around for accommodation. It’s often possible to find something that is nice and not expensive if you look long enough. Don’t cut costs on this though if it means going with something really uncomfortable and too many people to a room – participants need space to reflect, proper rest and some private time during the journey. - Healthy food is important. Some meals you may go with cheaper options, and other times, splurge a bit so people feel well taken care of. Make sure they are getting some healthy food, as they need to keep energy levels up. So again, don’t be too stingy throughout the programme on food. - Venues. It’s often possible to negotiate with partner organizations so that you get a nice meeting venue for free or at very low cost. But make sure you don’t sacrifice quality here as well. - Contingencies. Factor in about a 10% contingency fee for unexpected expenses arising. Ideally, you’ll find you didn’t need it all and have made a profit at the end, but if you don’t do this, you may find surprises that lead you to make a loss. - Staff and facilitation costs. The learning journeys have often been completely volunteer run, but this has sometimes come at a cost of people feeling undervalued. it’s good to consider paying the people working on it something so they don’t lose steam. You could either consider paying them a fixed fee agreed at the beginning, or a percentage of profits, or decide rather than paying people financially that you want to put money aside for other kinds of incentives, like joint activities or courses. There needs to be a reward system, that everyone feels is fair. There is no fixed policy on this in Pioneers of Change, it is ok to pay people for their work, and you need to figure out what your budget can handle. - Fee to PoC. We generally make sure that there is some financial contribution back to the core of the PoC network as each learning journey is of course drawing on previous learning from the network, the brand, and the connections in the network in order to market the journey. These contributions back have ranged from $300- $3000, and will depend on what your budget can handle. - Other expenses. Other key line items to include would be: transport, entertainment, materials and welcome packs, host organization gifts/fees (if necessary), documentation (video tapes, film…), and equipment. - Transparency. It helps to generate team spirit in the hosting team and ownership among participants if you can be transparent with your budget and share it with them.Predicting the real costs of the journey early can be difficult. Uli Von Ruecker, who is hostingan upcoming journey in Egypt, suggested approaching people locally who are used toorganizing conferences or events, and taking a look at their budgets to find out what thingscost locally. 26
  27. 27. FundraisingYou will need to decide up front whether you want to fundraise for the programme, orwhether you want it to be based on participant fees. It is generally difficult to get enoughpeople attending if they are covering all their own costs, and it is definitely worth writing aproposal and sending it to potential funders.One challenge is that the impact of the journey is in the places that the participants comefrom (when they return to their communities and make a difference there.) If they are allindividuals from different countries, it may be easier for them to fundraise from there, thanfor you to try to get local funders to invet in this experience for people from abroad.The things that have worked best for us in the past are: - Sending out the bios of the participants applying for scholarships to individual supporters of the PoC network and asking them to contribute to a scholarship fund, that can easily be paid into off the PoC website. - Helping people to fundraise for their own journey, by sending out proposals and materials they can use as individuals. - In a few cases, we have managed to get small amounts of funding from foundations who support scholarships, in response to us sending out proposals.Helping people fundraise for their journeyThese are some tips that were developed for participants fundraising for the Arts for SocialChange learning journey: 1. Send out a mail, asking 100 friends / colleagues to give you a donation of $10 each 2. Contact the following for donations / scholarships - Embassies - Travel agencies / airlines 3. Find out who in the corporate sector is supporting the arts. 4. Host an artistic / cultural event / party where people pay to attend and have a good time 5. Find someone to donate a prize and have a raffle 6. Search the Internet for links to International Donors who will fund individuals. One example is the Ford Foundation 7. Contact local art organizations / schools / colleges, asking if they could sponsor your travel, and in return you could hold a workshop as part of a skills transfer 8. Ask for support from your own organization - perhaps to host a fundraising event. 9. Use the local radio as a form of communication to raise funds and awareness about the arts. 11. Exhibition + auction or bazaar of artful items 12. Video night 27
  28. 28. 13. Pub quiz : “Arts and business” or?... 14. Street performanceGenerating incomeIn some cases, you can find creative ways to generate income through projects or services,rather than fundraising for donations. This could be through charging for a special event inconnection with the learning journey, or for example by doing commissioned research for anexisting institution on the learning journey topic. Both of these strategies have worked verywell for us in the past.AccountingThe accounts from learning journeys can get messy because there are a lot of receipts tokeep track of. It’s a good idea for one disciplined person to be responsible for all the moneyand to carry around a folder with different pockets for the receipts for different categories ofexpenses. You must be able to account for how you spent all the money.Bank accountsYou may set up a separate bank account for the project, or work through PoC or anotherexisting local organization. If you are using the PoC bank account, you need to make a clearagreement in advance with the Cultivation Team as to what are the expected income andexpenses, and make sure that money comes in before going out. 28
  29. 29. TROUBLESHOOTINGLearning Journeys are exciting and rich opportunities for learning and understanding. Theycan also be challenging creative laboratories for working with diversity and group dynamicsbecause of the following ingredients: • Young people participating from many cultures. • Many of them entering a new culture, perhaps with a foreign language, new sites, sounds, smells & hand gestures, concepts of time, gender roles, food, levels of personal safety, illness… For the less seasoned travelers there may be a certain level of discomfort that goes with all this. • Open/participatory learning processes are incredibly fruitful and also open to conflict, chaos and creativity. • Logistical complexity: visiting multiple projects in multiple cities and all of the details that go into transporting, feeding and housing participants.This is all the recipe for a wonderful rich and transformative experience. It has also been arecipe for some unnecessary pain and confusion in the past. In order to help you learn fromsome of the mistakes that we’ve made, below are a few things to pay special attention to,that have caused problems in the past.Hosting Team Health:As in any semi-volunteer project, we need to pay special effort to create a real sense ofownership and commitment to our teams. We also need to hold each other accountable andmake sure people have the knowledge and support they need to host what is a fairlynuanced and complex programme. It is key to have at least one person who is holding thebigger view and that there is good communication, flow of information and regular check-insto ensure that everyone is on the same page and following through on their commitments.Ensure that there are clear roles and responsibilities for each team member, so that certainaspects of the journey don’t end up falling through the cracks. Especially if you are workingremotely, don’t assume that everything is going smoothly, check, if you are concerned thatsomething is being missed. ASK – it will save you trouble in the long run.Participant Safety:We have had a participant go missing on a journey and participants have gotten mugged. Itis crucial to give everyone a thorough orientation on the country you are visiting and tips onhow to stay safe, what to watch out for on the ground how to protect oneself. You can handout little cards with the cell numbers of the coordinators and the name, address and phonenumber of the place(s) where you are staying for people to carry with them in case peopleget lost.Space/Environment:The impact of a new culture, the multiple cultures in the group and the amount of newinformation and learning from the local projects and communities can be overwhelming forparticipants, this saturation can be positive and can allow for people’s mindsets andparadigms to crack open and expand, but if it gets too overwhelming some people’s ability tolearn will decrease and the group can melt-down if the exhaustion levels are too high. Welearned from experience that is is essential to allow space and time in the schedule for bothgroup and individual reflection and for rest and celebration. It is also important to have thephysical space to gather as a group and for people to find somewhere comfortable toreplenish themselves at the end of the day. We have been burned in the past cutting costson cramped and dingy hostels, with cranky and resentful participants. 29
  30. 30. Culture/Models -It is extremely helpful to spend some time during the community building section of thejourney exploring culture and assumptions. There are many ways of exploring differences inthe group and surfacing hidden ways that each person looks at the world. One possibility isto do some session focusing briefly on where each participant comes from and what aresome of the stereotypes and truths about them/their culture. It is also helpful to explore alittle bit of the context of the country where the learning journey is being hosted as well assurfacing assumptions and questions and creating a shared context for learning about thefield of inquiry. 30
  31. 31. REFLECTIONS FROM PREVIOUS LJ HOSTS Alok Singh Co-host and initiator, India ‘03 The most important advice I can offer for future hosts of Learning journeys: Focus on the experience that will be generated for the participants: How can you create the conditions for an experience that embodies the content which is your focus in the Learning Journey? What Ive learnt is that LJs are a very powerful tool for learning, insight and generating creative responses to societal problems. Toharness this power in a healthy way, it is important that any LJ has a good mix ofdifferent types of spaces: observation, reflection, planning, action and also (crucially)for rest, doing nothing and fun. To put it another way, as a host you can create theconditions for the full range of participants "multiple intelligences" (logical, visual,spatial, musical, intrapersonal, interpersonal, natural, linguistic, etc.) to be utilised,resulting in a more complete learning experience. Ultimately, it is the experiencethat participants will remember and which will, over the long-term, create theconditions for them to make changes for themselves, their communities and thewider world. Marianne “Mille” Bojer Co-host, Bangladesh ’01, Brazil ’01, India ’03, South Africa ’05 and ‘06 I treasure the experiences I have had participating in, and hosting learning journeys with PoC. Each one has been full of surprises and a true journey of the mind and soul. I think the most important thing I have learned is to stay calm and continue holding the energy of the group even when the unexpected happens. Everything is a learningexperience, and can strengthen the participants as individuals and as a groupbecause they are going through it together. If the hosts lose their cool though, thegroup can lose its ground to stand on. (I’ve recently become a mother, and while Idon’t want to take that analogy too far, there are actually some similarities – mybaby can be very adventurous and explore the world as long as I am there and I amcalm!) Knowing that things are ok, has allowed me to encourage the group toexpress its conflicts which can lead to deeper learning. Finally, with all myimperfections, being a friend to participants and to host organizations, and facing thejourney with love, honesty, and joy, comes above all else. Tatiana Glad Co-host, Bangladesh ’01, Brazil ’01, Croatia ’03, Brazil (Sustainable Development) ’05, Netherlands ‘05 Clarity, passion and presence. My learning in designing and hosting learning journeys over the past years boils down to these three elements. Clarity on the purpose, principles and room for logistical manoeuvre. Passion for the topic, for 31
  32. 32. hosting, and for engaging with diverse perspectives and people. Capacity to bepresent to what emerges, and capacity to call in the presence of others in a trusting,co-creative and innovative learning space. Each learning journey is different, andthus each holds a unique set of subtleties in what makes it a positive experience forthe team and participants alike. The great discovery I have seen over the course ofthese learning journeys has been in seeing the behind-the-scenes challenges emergeas a reflection of our deepest learning around the subject at hand itself! 32